From Comcast SportsNetBALTIMORE (AP) -- After losing two straight games to Toronto, the Baltimore Orioles broke out the big bats.The Orioles tied a team record by with seven home runs to rout the Blue Jays 12-2 and stay within 1 games of the AL East lead.Chris Davis and Manny Machado each connected twice and the Orioles remained close to the division-leading New York Yankees, who won 8-2 in Minnesota.Nate McLouth hit a leadoff shot in the first inning and Jim Thome and Mark Reynolds also homered. Baltimore has hit seven home runs three times, most recently on Aug. 26, 1985."Home runs are very unique, and when you do what we did tonight, it's something to be proud of. It's something that doesn't happen a whole lot in the game," Thome said.Thome's home run was the 612th of his career and the first he's hit at home for the Orioles."Up and down the lineup, everyone swung the bat well. It's been fun," Thome said.Davis finished with a career-high five RBIs to help the Orioles split a four-game series with the last-place Blue Jays."This was a tough series. It was one of those ones that you don't want to see at the end of the season coming in off a long road trip," Davis said."I think if you'd have told us a few months ago that we'd be a game-and-a-half out with six games left, I think you'd be pretty happy with that."Beginning Friday, the Orioles have three games with Boston at home and three at Tampa Bay."We just got through playing Boston and we played them well. Obviously, the three in Tampa are going to be tough, but we're at a point where we still have a chance, so that's all you can ask for," Davis said.The Orioles trailed 2-1 heading into the bottom of the fifth before hitting three home runs.Thome led off with his third homer since joining the Orioles. With two outs, Machado hit his fifth of the year for a 3-2 Baltimore lead. All of Machado's home runs have come at home, and his drive was the Orioles' 200th homer of the year.Davis' three-run drive gave the Orioles a five-run inning and finished Carlos Villanueva (7-7).Villanueva equaled a career high by giving up four home runs."Those mistakes I made, they hit them with authority. They put the power stroke on them and made me pay for them," Villanueva said.Machado and Thome are the first AL teammates to hit home runs in the same inning with an age difference of more than 20 years, according to home run historian David Vincent.Thome is 42 and Machado is 20 -- Thome's major league career began 10 months before Machado was born."That's crazy," Machado said. "It's a pretty good stat. I remember when I used to watch (Thome) play when I was a little kid. Now to hit a home run in the same inning he did, just feels great."Davis hit his second home run in the seventh. On Aug. 24, he hit three home runs against the Blue Jays, also in a game started by Villanueva. He has 28 home runs.Reynolds hit his 23rd homer in the sixth and Machado added a two-run shot in the eighth.Miguel Gonzalez (8-4) allowed two runs and five hits in seven innings. He allowed Edwin Encarnacion's 42nd home run with two outs in the top of the first.With one out in the fifth, J.P. Arencibia, who went 7 for 9 in the four-game series, doubled and scored on Anthony Gose's single.NOTES:Orioles LHP Randy Wolf was put on the 60-day disabled list with a torn ligament in his left elbow. Baltimore purchased the contract of INF-OF Bill Hall from Triple-A Norfolk. Hall will provide outfield help while Lew Ford is out with a groin injury. ... Deion Sanders, in town for Thursday's NFL Network game between the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens, took batting practice with the Orioles before the game. Sanders, who played nine years in the majors, was an outfielder for Baltimore manager Buck Showalter in the minors while in the Yankees' organization. ... The Orioles are off Thursday and begin a three-game series with Boston on Friday. Baltimore RHP Chris Tillman (8-2, 3.08 ERA) faces Red Sox RHP Aaron Cook (4-10, 5.13). ... On Thursday, Toronto hosts New York to begin a four-game series. Blue Jays RHP Brandon Morrow (8-7, 3.28) faces Yankees RHP Ivan Nova (12-7, 4.94).
Monday’s preseason opener was a tough game to watch. With two teams opening their preseason slate, some sloppy hockey was expected. What was not expected, however, was the 20 minor penalties doled out on the night.
Along with slashing, faceoffs is a point of emphasis for the NHL this season. Referees and linesmen will be much stricter when enforcing faceoff rules, specifically where a player positions his stick and skate while taking a faceoff.
That emphasis was on full display in New Jersey as three faceoff violation penalties were issued, one within the game’s first minute.
“Just from what guys had said that played in the game and everything just obviously messing up with the flow and just having all those penalties, it sounded kind of crazy,” Capitals center Jay Beagle told reporters on Tuesday. “It's something to be seen, I guess. I hope they're just trying it out in preseason.”
Beagle stands to be the most affected by the faceoff crackdown as the team's top faceoff man. He led the team last season with a faceoff win percentage of 56.4-percent, tied for the 12th best in the NHL among players who took 100 faceoffs or more. He was the only center on the team with a positive faceoff percentage in the defensive zone (56.8-percent) and shorthanded (55.7-percent).
Like everyone, Beagle was not a fan of how the referees enforced the faceoff rules on Monday.
“It's a tough rule to enforce because to make it like it was [Monday] with a bunch of penalties and just the first period with no flow, I don't know if you guys enjoyed watching it, but most people did not like it,” he said. “I don't think that's good for the game.”
But that doesn't mean Beagle doesn't agree with it. Whle Monday's game was ugly, to say the least, he does understand where the NHL is coming from and even wondered if stricter enforcement could perhaps be a good thing.
“Little tweaks here and there to the rule that they’re trying to imply, I think it would work,” Beagle said.
By rule, for a faceoff in the defensive zone, the defensive forward must put his stick down first. Technically the offensive player is then supposed to put his stick down before the faceoff, but in practice linesmen frequently will drop the puck once the defensive forward's stick is down. This gives the offensive player an advantage as he is more easily able to get his stick under for the win.
“Say in the D-zone my stick has to come down first and an offensive guy has to bring his stick down first and they pause for a second and then drop the puck,” Beagle said, “It's more even than me putting my stick down first, an offensive guy flying into the dot and snapping it back on me. It might make it more even.”
So there may be a method to the NHL’s madness even if all we saw on Monday was the madness. Both the players and referees will have to adjust throughout the preseason in order to ensure a much cleaner look at the faceoff dot in the regular season.
“It's going to be something that you have to work on quite a bit,” Beagle said. “It'll take a lot adjustment for everyone."
Kirk Cousins played better in Week 2 than he did in Week 1, but the quarterback still didn't play as well as he's proved capable in previous seasons. He finished the 27-20 win over the Rams by going 18 of 27 for 179 yards with a touchdown. Important for Cousins, after three turnovers in a Week 1 loss, he did not fumble or throw an interception in Los Angeles.
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Digging deeper into the numbers, one trend has emerged: Cousins and the Redskins are not having much luck in the downfield passing game. Stats provided by Pro Football Focus.
- This season, Cousins has not completed a pass longer than 20 yards in the air. Against the Eagles in Week 1, Cousins missed on five deep attempts. Against the Rams, Cousins didn't have a deep attempt.
- Not surprisingly, Cousins does much better when he's not under pressure. On the season, the Redskins passer is completing nearly 70 percent of his passes without pressure, and that number drops to just below 43 percent under pressure.
- Cousins took four sacks against the Eagles, but that number dropped in half against the Rams.
- Against the Rams, Cousins found his greatest success throwing to his left. On attempts to his left side, he completed all five attempts. Throwing over the middle or to the right, he threw 19 passes and completed 13. Week 1 Cousins also found his best success throwing to his left.
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